El Quijote at Despaña
Filled with lomo embuchado (dry cured pork loin), manchego cheese, and quince cream, the el quijote succeeds in marrying all of its fillings into complete harmony. What really makes this sandwich shine is the beautiful pairing of the sweet quince cream with the strong sheep's milk flavor of the manchego.
Serrano Ham and Manchego at Bierkraft
Salty, sweet, spicy, bitter—this Serrano and Manchego sandwich from beer-fiend destination Bierkraft covers all the bases. The salty duo of tender, barely chewy ham and nutty Manchego hits you first, before the sweetness of the fig jam, slight spice of arugula, and lingering heat of pepper jelly.
Bierkraft: 191 5th Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11217 (map); 718-230-7600
Tortas in the Flatiron
A small, nameless cart on 28th and 6th produces one of the most satisfying five dollar lunches in the Flatiron district. In addition to standard taco and other Mexican street food fare, you'll find tortas: griddled sandwiches hefty enough to make you consider skipping dinner. Soft, chewy rolls are toasted on the griddle before getting stuffed with your choice of beef or carnitas (pork shoulder stewed in lard).
Taco Cart: 28th Street and 6th Avenue
House Roasted Turkey at Parm
Generally speaking, turkey on a roll is a dry, bland affair; not so at Parm, where their turkey is marinated in honey, garlic, and herbs, and slow roasted until the turkey is tender and succulent with more than a little garlic kick. This is one of the best turkey sandwiches we've ever encountered.
Meatball Sub at Alleva
A slab of home-made, salted mozzarella rings the inside perimeter of the sandwich, acting as a barrier that protects the bread from the sauce (although not wholly successfully, as seen above). The meatballs are definitely the best part about this sandwich: soft and garlicky, they can be sliced beautifully down the middle without any crags or crumbling.
Pane e Panelle from Bar Stuzzichini
Stuffed to the brim with several fried chickpea fritters and parmesan and caciocavallo cheeses, the almost nutty taste of the fritters balances nicely with the mild hints of Parmesan scattered throughout; the Parm also adds a delicious salty tang.
Bar Stuzzichini: 928 Broadway, New York NY 10010 (map); 212-780-5100
Turkey Leg from Henry Public
The dark leg meat is tender and succulent, almost pulled pork reminiscent, after being roasted, pulled off the bone, and braised in milk for hours. The heaping pile of peppery turkey shreds are layered with crispy-fried onions and juniper pickles (pickled in-house) in between thick-cut, toasted Pullman slices. Easily one of the best turkey sandwiches we've ever eaten.
Roast Beef Mondays at Salumeria Biellese
At Roast Beef Monday at Salumeria Biellese, these big guys are a can't-miss. We recommend the seeded roll, hefty enough to soak up the beefy juices poured over the top. Juicy, meaty, and as satisfying as a sandwich could be.
Salumeria Biellese: 376 8th Avenue, New York NY 10001 (map); 212-736-7376
Crispy Pork Sandwich at Bark
Pork shoulder, belly, and jowl (sourced from Heritage Foods USA), pressed into an overwhelmingly porky deep-fried patty that audibly crunches as you bite in. Creamy, crisp slaw given a kick from thin rounds of Heirloom hot peppers, with whole-grain mustard and bread-and-butter pickles, all on a soft, seeded bun.
Mumbai Xpress's Green Grilled Cheese
In addition to crunchy raw onions and that psychedelically green-colored coriander chutney, there's a shmear of Amul butter and Amul cheese, and a layer of thinly sliced potatoes and green peppers. It's one of the tastiest sandwiches I've ever eaten, vegetarian or otherwise.
Mumbai Xpress: 256-05 Hillside Avenue, Floral Park NY 11001(map); 718-470-0059
Roast Beef from Brennan & Carr
I went with the dipped version ($4.75) without cheese to get the unadulterated flavor of the beefy stock in which the sandwich is submerged. While the entire Kaiser bun is dipped, somehow it doesn't fall apart while you eat it. The flavor was fantastic—rich, meaty, salty—and the beef was sliced paper-thin and very tender.
Brennan & Carr: 3432 Nostrand Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11229 (map); 718-769-1254
Halloumi Sandwich at Macchiato
I was struck by the savory meatiness of the halloumi cheese, firm and a bit squeaky, much like the cheese curds found in Montreal's poutine. The simplicity of the other sandwich elements (a swipe of cream cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and pickle) perfectly complimented the halloumi and let its buttery umami flavor shine.
Roasted Turkey On Stirato from Bouchon Bakery
Those who think turkey sandwiches are dull have clearly never met the Roasted Turkey On Stirato ($13.50) from Bouchon Bakery: tender, smoky-tasting roasted turkey, with tomato marmalade, smoked gouda cheese, and a delightfully oily cilantro-almond aioli. Of course it's pricey—you're in the Time Warner Center. But like everything else at Bouchon, it's virtually flawless, with every element of a simple-seeming creation delicious and memorable.
Greek Grilled Cheese
Four key components to the sandwich. First, housemade pita, a signature at Pylos. Then kasseri cheese, a hard sheep's milk cheese, most often spotted in the Greek dish of saganaki. Fresh tomatoes are next, to bring a touch of lightness to an otherwise heavy sandwich. And finally, generous layers of salty pastourma.
Bikini at El Quinto Pino
This sandwich may be dainty looking, but don't underestimate it—any bigger and you'd be contending with a buttery gut bomb. Extra-thin slices of bread, crustless, are heavily buttered. In go layers of ham and cheese (jamon y queso, in this joint). A drizzle of truffle oil and then a trip through the panini press.
The Mujadara from Kalustyan's
The pita pocket, lined with tahini and hot sauce, was stuffed to the brim with delicious, still toothsome lentils. Tomato and lettuce were present as well, both slightly warm and wilted from the residual heat, taking on the flavors of the lentils.
The Roast Beef Special at Previti Pizza
House-roasted beef is dipped in its juices, layered with fresh mozzarella, and sandwiched between a genius realization of roast-beef-specific bread that's a cross between and English muffin and focaccia.
Ham and Gruyere at Dickson's Farmstand Meats
Why should anyone order a simple ham and cheese sandwich ($8)? Because it's one of the best we've ever had. Bright, creamy mayo and tangy mustard (here, Cherchies Hot Banana Pepper); slices of punchy, 6-month-aged Gruyere; and, of course, the ham—smoky, fresh, salty, perfect. Cured in-house and smoked for 16 hours. All between two slices of Country White from Amy's Bread.
Doubles at Ali's Trinidad & Tobago Roti Deli
Might be the best doubles ($1.25) this side of Trinidad. For a quarter of the cost of a Di Fara slice, you get a sweet and spicy chickpea curry that's flavored with tamarind and sandwiched between two disks of turmeric-scented deep-fried, naan-like bread known as "bara." Ali's curry and bara boast an herbal kick that somehow makes deep fried bread taste bright and fresh.
Ali's Trinidad Roti Shop: 1267 Fulton Street, Brooklyn NY 11216 (map); 718-783-0316
Pig's Ass Sandwich at Casellula
Dial up the cheese on a Cuban—this is a cheese bar, after all—and you'll get an idea. Thin shavings of Fiscalini Cheddar, nutty Fol Epi, and, er, pig's ass, with house-made bread and butter pickles whose bright crunch lightens each bite.
Roast Beef and Mozzarella from Defonte's
Nothing short of a classic. You'll find fall-apart roast beef, lean but incredibly juicy, piled on terrific crusty seeded Italian bread—crusty and thick enough to soak up the jus ladled on top. It's layered with house-made mozzarella and gets a bit of salty extra weight from paper-thin slices of fried eggplant.
Roasted Loin of Pork at Once Upon a Tart
This combination of flavors really delivered. The pork was thinly sliced and just the right about of chewy. The rosemary aioli was subtle, but didn't get lost in the bite. The bread was pretty crusty, but yielded well and cut easily.
Once Upon a Tart: 135 Sullivan Street, New York NY 10012 (map); 212-387-8869
Roll-n-Roaster's Roast Beef
Served on a sesame seeded kaiser bun, the Roaster Beef ($4.45) can be ordered rare, medium, or well-done with the option of cheese and onions. Ordered rare, my roast beef was pleasingly pink and smothered with plenty of caramelized onions and lots of drippy Cheez Whiz; the beef was tender and flavorful, the bun pleasantly squishy and chewy.
Panino Greco at Grandaisy Bakery
Fresh stecca bread is smothered with skordalia, an garlic-y puree with Greek origins. It's velvety, pungent, and the ideal base for a scattering of whole chickpeas, fragrant with thyme and bay leaves.
Italian Special from Faicco's Pork Store
It stands to reason that a century-old Italian meat store would make a killer Italian meat sandwich, and Faicco's $10 Italian Special doesn't disappoint: prosciutto, ham cappicola, sweet or hot soppressata (go for the hot), fresh mozzarella, and either roasted red peppers or sun-dried tomatoes, with plenty of olive oil, salt, and pepper—all of which fuse into every meaty, cheesy, juicy mouthful. Beautiful to look at. Better to devour.
Faicco's Pork Store: 260 Bleecker Street, New York NY 10014 (map); 212-334-9435
'The Pinocchio,' Sopressata and Prosciutto at Alidoro
A happy heap of prosciutto and sopressata with fresh mozzarella, a sweet red-and-yellow pepper dressing that's made in-house, and the ingredient you actually taste: black olive paste, a tapenade that's insanely salty and earthy and deep, almost pungent enough to overpower the half-inch stack of cured meat.